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The Northern Lights in the skies above Tromsø, Norway
A view of the Northern Lights in the skies above Tromsø, Norway. Photo by Kade O'Reilly ’22.

For many college students, study abroad has become a rite of passage, an eagerly anticipated opportunity for cultural immersion that promises to transform their personal, professional and academic lives. In 2020, however, COVID significantly limited students’ ability to travel overseas; according to NAFSA: The Association for International Educators, 94% of American colleges and universities shortened or canceled their study abroad programs for the 2019-2020 and 2021-2022 academic years.  

Now, nearly two years after the start of global COVID lockdowns, travel restrictions have eased and study abroad programs have resumed. That’s welcome news for Bentley students, says Natalie Schlegel MBA ’08, executive director of the Cronin Office of International Education, as nearly half of each undergraduate class participates in at least one of the university’s international programs, which range from intensive, week-long courses led by faculty to semester- and year-long immersions. More than 300 students traveled abroad during the last academic year, she says, and she anticipates 400 current students will have participated in international programs between now and the end of the summer.  

In addition, says Schlegel, virtual education experiences — including the university’s Global Impact Internships program, introduced in spring 2021 — are becoming increasingly popular. She notes that, for Bentley students unable to participate in traditional study abroad experiences, “online options provide an alternate path to personal and professional growth” and demonstrate that “travel is just one component of a comprehensive global classroom.”  

To celebrate the power of cultural discovery, the Office of International Education sponsors an annual photo contest. This year, members of the Bentley community were invited to submit photos in three categories: Bentley Abroad, highlighting Bentley pride overseas; Landscapes, showcasing the beauty of students’ home-away-from-home; and Belonging and Beyond, emphasizing intercultural connections. Voters chose their favorite photos in each category — as well as two more: Fan Favorite, determined by popular vote, and Alumni Choice, chosen by previous study abroad participants — via the International Education Facebook page

To view this year’s winners and category finalists, click here or on the photo below to explore the photo gallery. Photos are also on display in the Bentley Library’s RSM Art Gallery; the exhibit runs from December 7, 2022 – January 23, 2023. 

 Below: Song Doong Cave in Vietnam. Photo by Phung Luu MSBA ’23.

Song Doong Cave in Vietnam.

Bentley students share photos from their study abroad experiences